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Sciatica(26 posts)

May 6, 2003 9:53 AM
I am 31 and have sciatica on my right side. It developed apparently because of my riding in frigid temperatures this past winter. My cycling has almost stopped since January.

I have researched it and it seems very hard to get rid of once you have it. I know jogging definitely makes it worse. It felt pretty good yesterday so I went on a 21 mile ride. I hardly noticed it during the ride and it's not too bad today.

Have any other cyclists here had this problem? If so, please provide info on how long it lasted, what steps you took to overcome it and if you couldn't get rid of it, if you found a way to keep cycling despite it.

Thank you!
Chiropractor worked for me.dzrider
May 6, 2003 10:19 AM
Find one who doesn't try to sell you on regular adjustments. I find if I make an appointment before the pain becomes constant it takes fewer appointments to straighten me out.
I have tried a chiropractorstan_b
May 6, 2003 11:50 AM
She used ultrasound/heat/massage and finally an adjustment. After about 8 adjustments with little effect, I gave up.

I will try harder on the stretching and strength training. Thanks.
re: SciaticaPaulCL
May 6, 2003 10:51 AM
I do not suffer from it, so take this with a grain of salt. I think the chiropracter is a good idea. But, here's another....go find an MD in your area that does acupuncture. My wife is an MD acupuncturist (Family practitioner by training). I know she had treated patients with sciatica.

Heck, my wife has treated me (with success) for all types of cycling related ills and spills. One downside: most insurance won't cover it - so ask the price in advance. Paul
re: Sciaticavgraziano
May 6, 2003 11:17 AM
I also had a lot of success with a chiropractor, however, make sure you find a good one. Try and find one that will work with you as far as your cycling and the sciatica. I luckily found one that was big into promoting your continued exercise (within reason) along with the chiropractic adjustments, and a lot of stretching type exercises to do on your own. Even brought my bike into his office on one visit so he could check positioning and what would help/hurt the back problem.

As far as getting rid of it, I don't think you ever fully get rid of it, just learn to live with it. I was first diagnosed with it about 10 years ago and while I do not get chiropractic care now I still do all of the stretching exercises to maintain a reasonable level of flexibility. I have also heard some good things about the acupuncture but never tried it myself.
Good Luck!
re: Sciaticalonebikeroftheapocalypse
May 6, 2003 11:35 AM
I have it. What's always worked for me is to keep my back and everything else reasonably toned with moderate strength training. I'm not recomending you go out and hit the gym and I would definitely go see a doctor that can recomend a good PT to get you started. I can tell you that my sciatica definitely flares up more when I don't have the time to do at least some strength training. Just my $0.02.
Here's another storyMel Erickson
May 6, 2003 11:37 AM
Sciatica is a symtom, not a disease. It results from pressure on the sciatic nerve. Determine what's causing the pressure and treat the cause and you'll have longer term success. The most common cause of sciatica is a bulging disc in the L5 region but there are other causes. The disc itself can be pressing on the nerve or the swelling generated by the bulging disc can press on the nerve. Either way, it hurts. I've been living with the problem for over 10 years. A chiropractor did nothing for me and neither did acupuncture. Not saying they wouldn't help you and am not against them (obviously, I tried them, three different Chiros and one acupuncturist). PT helped me the most as has Celebrex. Actually been using Celebrex for a bum shoulder. Hasn't helped the shoulder but sure helped my back. I'd check out a good neurosurgeon, one who isn't biased towards surgery and is open to many types of treatments. Chances are one of his prescriptions will be PT. The trick here is finding a PT who really understands back problems. A temporary fix that can help you over the hump is a steroid injection, but that's a ways down the road after trying other things. It helps me when I have a bad flareup but I am concerned about long term affects. Don't think I'd pass a UCI drug test.
How did you get it?stan_b
May 6, 2003 12:02 PM
It seemed like I was fine one day and in pain the next. I assume some kind of disc slippage in my back. My medical doctor wasn't too encouraging. He said sciatica is like turning 20 - you're never 19 again. In other words, he made it seem like I might as well get out the wheelchair at 31 years old.

Do you find your use of a pain reliever doesn't hurt you? I'm wondering if the pain is masked and you continue to cycle, could you be making it worse or is it going to stay the same anyways?
Good questions.Mel Erickson
May 6, 2003 1:34 PM
The straw that broke the camels back was golf in 1991, although the disc was most likely deteriorating for years. Anti-inflammatories like Celebrex don't act directly on the pain. They reduce swelling which relieves pain. Most "slipped discs" are due to wear and tear, not an acute injury. Your doctor is basically correct but perhaps left you with the impression that nothing can be done. You can most likely manage the problem through a variety of means. I'd try everything short of surgery and even surgery as a last resort. I've thought about surgery many times but have managed to rehab and get back to good shape without it. My last flare-up in February happened while doing dishes at the kitchen sink. I didn't twist and wasn't bending either. Just felt a twinge and knew what was going to happen. A couple of days later I couldn't move in bed. My wife had to push my legs over and I kinda fell out of bed and crawled to the bathroom (mother nature, you know). Most people get better with PT, ibuprofen, stretching and exercise but if something like Chiro or acupunture works, so much the better, everyone's different. Biking can help and hurt my back, depending, but it's an overall plus. It's something you can live with and do pretty much what you want. It can interfere at times and is a real pain in the ass (pun intended). I'm 50 and can run my 24 year old son and 21 year old daughter into the ground on a road or mountain bike (my daughters a D2 soccer player and in great shape). There's no need to throw in the towel.
Here's another storygtx
May 6, 2003 1:25 PM
agree that Sciatica is a symtom. I've been up and down this road, saw every doc, PT, chiro, etc out there. Here's what fixed me after three terrible years (in two weeks!)

Been pain free for the last five years.
YepMel Erickson
May 6, 2003 1:37 PM
There's a number of people that swear by Sarno. Unfortunately didn't do anything for me. I'm too logical for my own good. Glad it worked for you, sure worth a try.
May 6, 2003 1:55 PM
did you try reading his books? I can see that it might take a leap of faith for some people, particularly if they've seen MRIs or had surgery, but for me it just clicked right off the bat--everything he said lined up perfectly with my experience. I was so confident about it after a few days I was actually laughing at my pain. If you haven't tried reading one of his books all the way through I would really recommend giving it a shot (even if the writing can be a bit annoying at times).
YepMel Erickson
May 6, 2003 3:19 PM
I gave it the old college try with no change. I believe his concepts can work, they just didn't for me.
re: SciaticaFredrico
May 6, 2003 11:56 AM
Had the same thing several years ago. That's the big nerve bundle that goes from your backbone down your leg, right? Talk about bummers. I couldn't decide whether it was torn, or inflamed, or both. It very slowly went away in about two months. Cycling proved therapeutic after a few weeks. I checked it out on the web, and concluded there's not much that needs to be done about it. So keep riding and have faith in the amazing resiliency of the human body.
May 6, 2003 12:03 PM
While I was prepping my response, others posted. Seems like chronic sciatica is one thing, one time injury, as I must have done, another. Mine has never re-curred.
It never came back??stan_b
May 6, 2003 12:04 PM
Are you sure what you had was sciatica? You are the first to say you actually got rid of it for good. That would be nice! I know doing nothing, sitting in a chair all day can't be the answer.
no, it didn't, for 5 years.Fredrico
May 6, 2003 12:24 PM
But it must not have been from the same cause as, for example, a herniated disc. Mine was either from a nasty fall on the tailbone, or a pulled muscle or tendon in the hip region, swelling tissue pressing on the sciatic nerve. It definitely was a sharp pain down the nerve bundle inside the right leg. At first I thought it was a pulled hamstring muscle, but it was too far inside the leg, and healed like a bone injury, not a muscle. I didn't see a doctor about it, because I was satisfied with WEB MD's explanation.

Apparently there are different causes for sciatic nerve. My cause allowed the nerve to eventually heal. Other causes might continue to aggravate the nerve, as others have said.
I was asymptomatic for 4 years, had a short bout and havedzrider
May 6, 2003 1:05 PM
been pain free for the last 6 months. I imagine I'll have some more flare-ups, but for the most part I'm fine. My impression of MD's is that they're overly pessimisic about anything other than surgery, about which they're overly optimistic.
re: SciaticaRoundabout
May 6, 2003 12:02 PM
I have it too. A recent MRI showed a moderate herniated disk (L4-L5) that is pushing against the nerve. This first flared up about 2 years ago and lasted 2-3 months (it went away completely then). It hit me again about 4 months ago with a vengeance and has not gone away. The pain goes up and down but I think it is here to stay.

I have been told that the riding position may not be good for it as it compresses the disc. However, my experience is like yours; I feel better when I ride and for the rest of the day afterwards (although it does not go away completely). The benefit could be due to the increased blood flow, I do not know.

Other things that help are McKenzie extensions. I also sit on an exercise ball in my office and use lumbar pillows when I sit in a car or on a chair. I avoid couches and heavily upholstered and overstuffed furniture like the plague. Finally, anti-inflammatories help me when it gets bad (Vioxx).

Good luck.
Check your saddle ...Live Steam
May 6, 2003 12:15 PM
I was starting to develop a problem last season. I put a new saddle on and I seems that is what triggered it. I didn't put two and two together for a while though. After switching it back to the old saddle I was fine. It seems that the new saddle just didn't fit right. Maybe there wasn't padding in the right spot for my butt. The nerve passes near the sit bone I believe and it must have become inflamed. If you made any changes to the saddle such as fore/aft adjustment or height adjustment or switched it out, this could be your problem.
Saddles can cause pressureFredrico
May 6, 2003 12:49 PM
I've gotten pressure on the inside of the leg from saddles, which over time could aggravate the sciatic nerve. It runs right next to the sit bones. That's another cause to check out, before assuming it's a chronic condition you'll have to live with the rest of your life.
You want to talk about PAIN!High Gear
May 6, 2003 5:31 PM
I'll tell you about pain. I got the run around from the Doc for two years. Stretch he told me. Don't get me wrong, stretching is great but if you have a protruding disk like me your SOL. I'm always real stiff in the morning and can't tie my shoes, so I leave them loose and just slip them on. The pain I get is on the right side and is like a charley horse. It only goes down to the bottom of my butt. It subsides by mid day. For some people it travels all the way down to the foot. The chiropractor did take an edge off the pain to a point. A MRI is the way to go. They can determin what the cause is, bone spur, tumor or disk problem. I have an apointment with a neuroligist in a few weeks to see what he has to say, because therapy made is worse. Know I have off and on numbness in my right leg from traction they did on me. Ask to see a specialist like a neuroligist if it doesn't subside with stretching and chiropractic care. One other thing. I have found that the flatter you can get your back on the bike the better. It puts less stress on the lower disks. Think of rotating your hips forward. Good Luck
Sciatica, leg pain etcbmb
May 7, 2003 8:39 AM
I'm a cyclist and Interventional Pain doctor. There are few different conditions that can cause pain running down the leg (sciatica): Bulging or Herniated Disks in the spine pushing on the nerve, pain from the joints in the back, direct pressure on the sciatic nerve in the buttocks. All of these can be worsened by hours in the saddle (but of course the rest of your life is better after long hours in the saddle).

If you have leg weakness or bowel or bladder incontinence, see a neurosurgeon or orthopedic/spine surgeon right away. Otherwise, most pain doctors can help this pain with medicines (motrin, vioxx, etc) and for some people epidural steroid injections ("steroid shots") help. MRI may be indicated along with other tests. Staying fit, lean, stretching can all help. In some cases an adjustment in position or new saddle might help.

Good luck
re: Sciaticajrescpa
May 7, 2003 8:59 AM
I know all about sciatica. I had it for 6 months. Was so painful I couldn't sit, drive or sleep without ibupofen. Go to your bookstore and buy one of several books by Dr. John E. Sarno. Or search him on Amazon and read customer reviews. It took some time, but it worked for me. No sciatica or back pain in since Jan 2000 and I ran 2 marathons last year. Dr. Sarno also treated my mother in the early 1980's after 2 orthopedic dr's recommended spine surgery. She's cured and no back pain for 20 years.
May 7, 2003 10:58 AM
Sarno worked for me, too (see above)
The problem I have with Sarno...Ray Sachs
May 8, 2003 4:29 AM he talks about the "mind-body" connection, but basically makes a case that the body has nothing to do with it and the mind is causing ALL of the problems. My brother is a Sarno evangelist and I've read his books and watched his video tapes and spent a couple of months following his program for my back problems. Did nothing for me.

Then I read another book (by Art Brownstein) that talks about the mind body connection and the importance of taking care of BOTH ends of that equation. I started doing his combination of deep relaxation techniques, exersizes, and stretches (that are almost all taken from Yoga) and started getting immediate relief. I now try to do yoga several times a week, which deals with stretching, strengthening, and relaxation and as long as I stay on top of it, my back is good. If I start getting cocky and drifting away from it, I tend to have problems, but they're quickly remedied by getting back into that routine.

Everyone's mileage will vary,